We know that feminist theory touches upon many points regarding the order in which women experience and are positioned in the background in the social context. All of these points are worth discussing. Race and gender, on the other hand, have a great place in the analysis of basic understanding. In this article, we will talk about the racial hierarchy based on differences. Although the idea that this is a conceptualized hierarchy is subjective, we will arrive at the subject-object relationship through the concepts of global sisterhood, women of color, colonialism and marginalization.
A View On Issue: Analysing Race and Gender
Race and gender intersect in many ways. With modernity, these relations have been analyzed and interpreted. When we need to look at the issue from several perspectives, we can say that one of the important concepts that should be handled well is the global sisterhood.
The concept of Global Sisterhood rejects every feature that makes a difference among women and aims at self-awareness. The most critical point here is that in addition to determining the social dynamics of patriarchy, there is a power relationship between women. An emphasis on a global sisterhood developed around this power relationship should be discussed in some respects. First of all, we can talk about societies that do not have enough potential to meet the basic needs of women rather than social environment, economic and geographical differences. Every woman continues her struggle with different challenges. Every woman’s living space is unique and valuable. The point that needs to be mentioned here is that there are women who have a negative position as a result of the patriarchal order, as well as situations where very basic and humane conditions are inadequate. To give an example, how exactly should women living in any tribe, growing up in a closed community and not meeting their basic needs be positioned? When the situation is evaluated like this, the concept of global sisterhood becomes far from reality. Of course, it evokes a solidarity in terms of ideas, but we can see that this is a very positive discourse when associated with conditions. We can say that the global sisterhood ignores the diversity and cultural and social differences and is oriented towards racism and colonialism(Kenaan, 2006). This assessment is in many ways ethnocentric.
Another concept that needs to be discussed in the relationship between race and gender is women of color. The subjectification-objectification issue, which needs to be dealt with deeply here, basically arises from the conceptualization of women of color. This is because looking at relationships from this point of view creates an analysis problem. The denominations that we will talk about shortly have emerged as a result of the orientalist perspective. A normal woman’s portrait is drawn and every other woman is marginalized and evaluated as abnormal. The normal is the “white woman”. The white woman is in a profile that has no problems and has the right to speak on certain platforms. Why don’t white women have problems? The main issue here is the objectification of every woman outside the normal. Discourses such as black women and Arab women turn these women into objects. This analysis is done by the subject. In this case, can a black woman or an Arab woman have the opportunity to express herself? Or are they subject to other people’s judgments of them? This is quite important. Because here we observe that all women are viewed from one direction(Haslanger, 2000). Defining black with reference to white is to connect the existence of black to white. Therefore, such an analysis cannot be made. Because we encounter a point of view that causes objectification/marginalization(Kenaan, 2006).
Another problem is that the experiences of women in certain groups deserve a single definition. The order in which these women are placed is shown as if it never changes and does not transform. This immutable essence is an inadequate approach that operates with the idea that the women in question will always be in the same spot. For example, the problems of Arab women, Indian women or Muslim women are mentioned. We hear these terms a lot. However, we do not have an analysis on European women. We can say that this is the key point of the whole issue. On the one hand, there is the perception of women in an advantageous position in terms of class, economy, political and social aspects, on the other hand, there is a profile of women who are marginalized and whose problems are constantly being voiced. The power relationship we mentioned earlier can be seen in the discourses of women who have grown up under certain conditions, about women living outside their own circle. There is an oversimplification here(Kenaan, 2006).
In addition to the definitions we have mentioned and the evaluations based on the gender-racial relationship, we should also mention the traces left by the colonial mentality in societies. Because we observe that these societies have a traditionalist understanding of relationship. Having colonial experience in the historical process does not allow a society to change and transform. For this reason, the relations built in exploited societies should be evaluated as a result of this historical experience. Colonialism has led to a critical exploitation of women. We witness systematic encroachments for biopolitical purposes. Sterilization or ruling over the woman body are among these experiences. Seeing the woman body as accessible creates a relationship of oppression(Kenaan, 2006).
Another important point that we should mention after a general evaluation is that the definition has a very important place. Defining gender and defining race are generally discussed issues. As a result of these discussions, what we want to be and what we practice is important rather than an overarching definition. This is because definitions and such wide-ranging search for expressions make us ignore some situations. At this point, we can give an example of disability. It is necessary to solve the problems of women with disabilities and eliminate the difficulties they face. But we should not try to define the current state first. Such an effort is a sign of stereotype. It is essential to identify the basic needs of women with disabilities rather than dehumanizing them. Being in an environment where they can express themselves is important for solving problems. What we deduce from each point we have mentioned is not that definition is unnecessary(Haslanger, 2000). It is simply that such an effort should be in the background when there are much more vital issues. Also, the idea that every woman should be strong is a stigma. This perception causes women to be subjected to imposition.
It is valuable in terms of race and gender relations that the constructed perception and objectified women tell their own problems. Each geography has different challenges in it. We see that even women living in the same society face different problems. For this reason, it is absolutely necessary not to generalize and for every woman to have a platform to express herself. Changing the patriarchal structure that shapes women as they wish, women need to find the power of expression and continue their experience as subjects without being marginalized.
If we have to come to a conclusion, we once again grasp the importance of being able to express in the issue of race and gender. The key point in every field where women struggle is to have their voices heard by themselves. It is important here to stay away from the ethnocentric point of view. If I have to comment specifically I need to say it, if we assume that diversity is a very difficult issue in feminist theory, we may conclude that it is not possible to have a theory that will seriously address and encompass every woman in the world. Although the discussion we have here emphasizes that this inclusiveness may not be achieved, it explains the importance of women acting on their own behalf with common goals and improving their experiences.
Haslanger, S. (2000), Gender and Race: (What) Are They? (What) Do We Want Them To Be?. Noûs, 34: 31-55.
Keenan, D. (2006). Race, Gender, and Other Differences in Feminist Theory. In A Companion to Gender History (eds T.A. Meade and M.E. Wiesner-Hanks).